Exploring Summer Theatre

Summer is a magical time of warmth and sunshine where theatre festivals pop up like daisies, and when I actually have time to go on road trips to remote (or not so remote) areas to see performances. In case you were looking for exciting summer theatre to put on your own calendar, here are a few of the theaters I am hoping to visit in the next few months.

Williamstown Theatre Festival

WTF (yes that’s their acronym) is housed at Williams College in the beautiful, most northwest corner of Massachusetts, and they use the summer months to stage innovative revivals and exciting new plays and musicals, in addition to fostering new talent in acting, directing, design, tech, and writing. The most exciting part, in my opinion? Seeing exceptional theatre before it hits Broadway––usually while it’s still in the final workshop phases. This means lower prices (try $35 for center mezzanine!) and chances to see both famous actors and their writers and directors all in the same place. This summer, check out Unknown Solider, a new musical by Michael Friedman and David Goldstein, running July 30 – August 9.

Watch this video on YouTube.

(This is the sitzprobe from WTF’s 2013 production of The Bridges of Madison County. Check out those mountains. Check out that Steve Pasquale vibrato.)

The O’Neill Theater Center

Located in Waterford, CT, The O’Neill Center has an entire conference dedicated to workshopping new musicals! Attending the National Music Theatre Conference as a writer is incredibly competitive, and work is fresh, interesting, and changing daily as writers test out their pieces with actors, directors, and eventually audiences. This year, the three chosen musicals are Slaughterhouse Five by Jed Feuer and Adele Ahronheim, We Live in Cairo by Daniel and Patrick Lazour, and ZM by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis (the creators of Urinetown!). Dates are to be announced soon, so keep up on their website.

Watch this video on YouTube.

Paulette Haupt, the National Music Theater Conference Artistic Director, speaks about the Conference.

The American Repertory Theater

The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts is one of my favorite places to visit for new musicals, and this is the musical theatre event I’ve been waiting over two years for––Waitress. Based on the 2007 film of the same name, this musical has a score by Sara Bareilles, who happens to be one of my favorite pop artists (see this essay in which I compare her work to Pasek and Paul’s “Waving Through a Window”). Even more exciting, with a score by Bareilles, direction by Paulus, and a book by Jessie Nelson, this is a musical led by an entirely female creative team. And it’s starring Jessie Mueller, who won a Tony award in 2014 for Beautiful: the Carole King Musical. Now, if that’s not enough to entice you to buy a ticket in August, I’m not sure what is.

Watch this video on YouTube.

Sara Bareilles previews “She Used To Be Mine” from the upcoming Waitress.

BONUS! Arena Stage

Speaking of Pasek and Paul, their musical Dear Evan Hansen opens at Arena Stage in DC, running July through August! I’ve already done an analysis of the song “Waving Through a Window” so to avoid sounding like a broken record, I’ll just leave this here.

Go forth, plan road trips, and get inspired this summer!

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